“The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of the PRC’s maritime militia amassing at Whitsun Reef (Julian Felipe Reef),” United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a Twitter post March 29.
“We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order,” he added.
Over the weekend, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana renewed call for immediate withdrawal of Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef.
“We are ready to defend our national sovereignty and protect the marine resources of the Philippines. There will be an increased presence of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard ships to conduct sovereignty patrols and protect our fishermen in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“A Philippine Navy ship and a Philippine Coast Guard [ship] are currently in the area monitoring the actual situation there. The PAF (Philippine Air Force) deploys an element of AS211 jet aircraft every day with the same mission. Our air and sea assets are ready to protect our sovereignty in the WPS and KIG,” Secretary Lorenzana noted.
“By securing the West Philippine Sea and its islands in the Kalayaan area, the Philippines reinforces its commitment to keeping the freedom of navigation and maintaining regional peace and stability,” Lorenzana added.